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Declaration on Concelebration
In Celebratione Missae
August 7, 1972

Author:
Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

Everyone has the right and duty, when sharing in the celebration of Mass "to play his proper role in accordance with the diversity of orders and functions . . . in such wise that the very ordering of the celebration will manifest the Church in its various ranks and ministries." [1] Priests, ordained by the special Sacrament of Orders, perform the function that is properly theirs in the celebration of Mass whenever, individually or with other priests, they effect and offer the sacrifice of Christ sacramentally and receive Holy Communion. [2]

It is fitting therefore that at Mass priests should celebrate or concelebrate, so as to play their part more fully and in the manner proper to themselves, and that they should not communicate merely, as do the laity. [3]

Since a number of problems have been posed about the interpretation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (numbers 76 and 158), the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship makes the following declaration:

1.The members of chapters and communities of institutes of perfection whom pastoral care obliges to celebrate Mass for the faithful, may, on the same day, concelebrate at the conventual or community Mass. [4] The concelebration of the Eucharist in communities ought to be held in high esteem. Fraternal concelebration by priests symbolizes and strengthens the links which unite them with one another and which unite the community. [5] This way of celebrating the sacrifice, with everybody taking part consciously, actively and in the way that is proper to him, sets the action of the community more clearly in relief and is a very special manifestation of the Church, showing the unity of sacrifice and priesthood in the unique act of thanksgiving around the same altar. [6]

2.When a priest, in conformity with number 158 of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, concelebrates at the principal Mass on the occasion of a pastoral visitation or a special gathering of priests - for example, during a pastoral gathering, a congress or a pilgrimage - he may also celebrate for the good of the faithful.

3.The following however must be observed:

a) Bishops and competent superiors [7] must see to it that in communities and at gatherings of priests, concelebration is performed with dignity and true piety. To ensure this, and to achieve their greater spiritual good, the liberty of the concelebrants must always be respected and their interior and exterior participation facilitated by organizing the celebration authentically and totally  in accordance with the norms of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. Each part of the Mass should be celebrated as its nature demands, [8] tasks and functions should be clearly defined and attention paid to the singing and to the moments of silence.

b)Priests who celebrate Mass for the good of the faithful and who concelebrate at another Mass may on no account accept a stipend for the concelebrated Mass.

c)While the excellence of concelebration as a manner of celebrating the Eucharist in communities is not to be denied, Mass without the participation of the faithful "remains at the same time the center of the entire Church and the heart of priestly existence." [9]

For this reason, every priest ought to be allowed the right to celebrate Mass alone. [10] To ensure priests' liberty, everything should be made available to facilitate such celebrations: time should be set aside, there should be a place where a single celebration is possible and an altar server should be at hand, and whatever else is needed should be made available.

Endnotes

  1. General Instruction on the Roman Missal, n. 58; Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.28.

  2. S.C.R. Decree Ecclesiae Semper, 7 March 1965; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57 (1965), pp. 410-411.

  3. S.C.R. Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, 25 May 1967, n. 43.

  4. General Instruction on the Roman Missal, n.76.

  5. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 28; Decree on the Mystery and Life of Priests, n. 8.

  6. S.C.R. Decree Ecclesiae Semper, 7 March 1965; Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 47.

  7. General Instruction on the Roman Missal, n. 155.

  8. S.C.R. Instruction Musicam Sacram, 5 March 1967, n. 6.

  9. The Synod of Bishops, De Sacerdotio Ministeriali, Part Two, n. 3. [This paragraph seems open to misinterpretation. The Latin is: Quamvis concelebratio forma sit praeclara celebrationis eucharisticae in communitatibus habendae, ipsa quoque celebratio sine fidelium participatione "manet tamen centrum totius Ecclesiae et veluti cor existentiae sacerdotalis." The French translation in Documentation catholique (n. 1622, p. 1113) renders forma praeclara as une maniere excellente, which seems weaker than the context would warrant. But it is the quotation from the Synod's text which might most easily be misinterpreted. The meaning is not that it is only Mass clebrated without the participation of the faithful which is "the center of the entire Church and the heart of priestly existence"; this, of course, applies to all celebrations of the Eucharist, "even if the Eucharist should be celebrated without participation by the faithful," as the Synod's text puts it.-Editor.]

  10. S.C.R. Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 47.

 

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